I thought this was another great episode with so much good stuff. I think it showcased the team really well, and Luther didn't acquit himself too badly either. I loved the fleeting glimpse into Lisbon's past as well as her nature. And I loved the ending—just the sort of thing we always wish for and rarely get. So I thought a tag was needless. But, a good episode begets good feelings and deserves further consideration by anyone who will take the time. This is what it beget in me.

TAG to EPISODE 4x04: Ring Around the Rosie

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"You think I'm an anti-social personality?"

"Eh. Sure. Who isn't?"

She answered him glibly, her subtle reassurance that she didn't think there was anything really wrong with him. But his question had been at least in part sincere.

"Seriously. Do you see me as, say . . . a clinical psychopath?"

They had reached the break room, and Lisbon was hunting out her travel mug for tea to-go.

"Clinical psychopath? Absolutely not," she said with more conviction. Gratified, Jane raised his teacup for another sip. "There's nothing clinical about it."

He paused with the cup at his lips, taken aback for a moment, before he raised his eyes to peer at her over its edge. Her eyes sparkled back at him with teasing merriment as she twisted away from where she reached up into one of the high cabinets to look over her shoulder at him.

"Perfect zinger, Lisbon." He raised the teacup to her. "Cheers."

Travel mug in hand, she turned around to consider him a moment. There had been something in his tone.

"What's going on?" Her tone was high and light with curiosity and mild concern, but almost instantly her eyes narrowed and the soft voice went to raspy steel. "What did Wainwright say to you?"

She was in protective mode, her back up that one of her own might have been hurt or offended, ready to be offended on their part. He had to smile a little with quiet satisfaction. As much as he had wanted to protect her, to save her, usually from the possible danger he was most likely to cause her personally and professionally, he couldn't honestly deny, if even to himself, that he liked being considered one of the select few that were Lisbon's own. He took a moment to delight in his overdue sip then settled the cup in its saucer.

"Oh, nothing." He looked away from her and rocked heel to toe, looking for the world like it didn't matter. "He psychoanalyzed me."

"Psychoanalyzed. You. And that's what he came up with."

She probably meant them as questions for clarification, but they came out as statements instead.

"Yes. He said I'm 'glib' with 'superficial charm.' That I have 'a grandiose sense of self-worth.'"

He looked back at her at the sound of her snicker, a chastisement on his lips, but noted that her smirk was focused on his hand where it hung in the air, paused in the flamboyant gestures he'd been making to emphasize his words. He cleared his throat and lowered his hand, rubbing it down the front of his vest.

"Anything else?" she queried in sudden mock seriousness.

Mirroring her demeanor, he replied, "I think he mentioned 'poor behavioral controls' and something about 'failure to accept responsibility for one's own actions.'"

He looked at her sheepishly on that one.

"You know. The usual. Straight out of the textbook."

"And he didn't mention the need for stimulation? Pathological lying? Conning manipulativeness? Impulsivity? Irrespon—"

"Enough! Are you not in the least concerned about exacerbating my delicate condition?"

She gave him a teasing grin then turned to lift the teapot, half facing the counter as she transferred steaming liquid from one container to another. He leaned his back against the countertop watching her, taking in that Mona Lisa smile she had come to wear more and more of late, glad to see her so placid and pleased, even if it was at his expense.

"How do you know so much about psychopathy anyway?"

"I read up on it a while back. Thought it might come in handy."

Only suspecting her meaning and not knowing if she was serious, he pushed. He felt comfortable enough to do that now.

"In dealing with me?"

She set the pot down and considered, her hand drifting to the little ceramic box of raw sugar packets.

"Some . . . yeah."

"Just some?"

"Mm-hm." Counting out the packets distracted her momentarily. "Knew it couldn't hurt in dealing with suspects, anybody really we might encounter in a case."

"But with me . . . just some." This time the statement was a question. She looked directly at him now, her hands busy with tearing several sugar packets open at one time.

"Yeah. It didn't take much reading to know you didn't fit."

She went back to adding and stirring the sugar. While it wasn't his preference, tonight he had opted to brew the high quality herbal tea Lisbon had purchased for him a while back in what, he had no doubt, was a subtle attempt to get him to reduce his nightly caffeine intake. Lack of stimulant made no difference to him, but he had hoped he might be sharing the pot tonight, and she would have had enough caffeine for the day. It was one of her delightful quirks that, while she drank her coffee black, she always added an enormous amount of sugar to un-caffeinated tea. He supposed it was her way of substituting one rush for another.

"And how, Doctor Dear, exactly, did I not fit?"

She gave the teaspoon a final swirl then tapped it on the edge of the mug before leaning forward to rinse it in the sink.

"Well," she thought, wrinkling her brow with remembering. "For one thing, I wouldn't think of you as parasitic."

"Really." He drew the word out as if he found that insight very interesting.

"No. I mean, you don't do a lot of work, but you don't sit back and wait for others to do for you. And you're certainly not content with resting on anybody else's laurels."

He snorted into his teacup. She ignored it and continued.

"You don't engage in promiscuous sexual behavior—"

Well, no need for comment there.

"—and while you can be a cold bastard at times, I wouldn't really describe you as being callous or having a lack of empathy."

"Really." It was drawn out even more this time and spoken at a higher pitch. She looked at him sharply, hearing the laughter in his voice, knowing it was directed at her.

"Really," she said back in a near-perfect parrot before shifting back to her normal voice. "And there's the whole dissociative thing. One thing you're not is dissociative."

He was a little disappointed at that and felt he honestly had to set her straight.

"Just because I like to be the center of attention, like to have an audience doesn't mean I like to associate with people, Lisbon. It just means I'm . . . "

"Self-aggrandizing and grandiose?"

He pouted at her smirk. "Well, yes."

"But you do like being with your friends. With me, and the team. You're out with one or the other of us during the day, and when you're not, you're on your couch, close by."

"Huh." He considered this with a little lighter heart. "That's true."

"And a psychopath can't be cured."

He smirked at her, knowing there were any number of directions he could take the tease if the hour weren't so late. "And you think you've cured me?"

"Oh, no! Not that—never that!" She saw the gleam of mischief in his eye and answered with one of her own. "I think age has softened you."

He let his mouth gape in scoffing indignation at her sassy look before softly correcting her. "More like experience."

That was a loaded statement, and, as he had anticipated, she decided to let it go. She didn't want to tell him that there was a time that a psychopath was exactly what she had feared him to be. There were other things she had feared too. Willie Shubert, a bright and talented man, destroyed by grief and guilt over his wife's death and what he perceived as his fault in it, drifting along the underside of life with no one to care what happened to him or where he ended up had brought those other things to mind. She had felt she owed Willie for something he had unwittingly done for her in a past where there were few who had done anything at all. She had been able to help him, even if it was only a little. She knew in some ways she had been able to help Jane too. Even if it was only a little.

She popped the lid onto the travel mug and paused for an instant, curiosity and care tempting her to ask when he would be going home. Perhaps she would find out if he had a home to go to. Was he back at that extended stay motel? Had he made other arrangements? Or, in light of his latest Red John theories was he spending his nights in the attic? The way things were now, she could ask and he might tell her, but she didn't want any awkwardness between them. It would be easier to just go upstairs the next time he was out and look around for herself.

She thanked him for the tea and smiled a good night, which she had to repeat when he walked her to the elevator. The door closed on her as she waved her mug in final farewell, and he stood looking at the elevator door, his gaze resting where her face had been, contemplating.

This had been the first time in a long while that they had worked different cases at the same time. In the past two days, the only time they had ridden and worked together was in checking out Henry Tibbs' house. And he had missed her. He had missed her, and he had hoped she would sit on his couch and have tea. Nothing wrong or odd about it. Friends catching up.

She was right. Definitely not dissociative.

He ambled back to the break room, refreshed his cup of tea and went back to his couch and book, completely unaware of the observer standing in the shadows down the hall.

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Luther Wainwright was no fool.

He was smart. Insightful. A rising star. He was a quick study, a fast learner. And he had learned a lot in the last two days.

Point one: Do not confuse being the boss with being in charge.

Point two: Do not expect any situation, even though it appears to be textbook, to follow the textbook.

Point three: It would take much longer than two days to figure out the members of the Serious Crimes Unit.

Agent Wayne Rigsby was fairly easy, though Luther was certain there were, as yet, unplumbed depths. Keep your head down, don't make waves, play well with others, follow the rules. Unless there's good reason not to. The opinions and gut instincts of people he trusted constituted good reason. Rigsby was a good cop, knowledgeable, rule-abiding, respectful. But no pushover.

Agent Grace Van Pelt was a little more complicated. She seemed sunny and compliant, helpful and easygoing. She was also beautiful, but that was beside the point. And for all her sweetness, she had an attitude. He'd heard some comedian say that when someone started a statement with "With all due respect" that they were about to say something utterly disrespectful. Definitely an attitude but nothing that came anywhere close to insubordination. He suspected Agent Van Pelt knew exactly which lines to cross and which to stay shy of. But there was something else there. Something hard and sharp-edged. Nothing to worry about but definitely something dangerous. That didn't make sense, but that's the only way he could describe it. In light of recent events, he thought that was understandable. At any rate, he would stay vigilant.

Agent Kimball Cho was at once enigmatic and transparent, and both—Luther suspected—by choice and on purpose. His expression seemed to almost never change, but he left one in no doubt as to his thoughts. Luther hoped. Cho moved and carried himself with and seemed to breathe confidence. Like a man who had learned well and deeply every lesson life had ever taught him. He was proficient. At everything. Shooting, interrogating, investigating, canvassing, assessing. There were very few situations he couldn't figure out, very few twists that threw him. Luther couldn't figure out why he wasn't leading his own team, unless it was out of loyalty to Agent Lisbon.

Agent Teresa Lisbon. Now there was a conundrum. Another attractive woman—just as a point of observation, and Luther had learned it was imperative to observe everything. She was as smart as Cho, as by-the-book as Rigsby, and in spite of her yes-sir-no-sir-glad-to-have-you-on-board-sir manner, she had every ounce the attitude of Van Pelt and then some. She had behaved with perfect respect, even when he knew she adamantly disagreed with him over the handling of Willie Shubert's case. But he had the distinct feeling that for the past two days, at best she'd been giving him the benefit of the doubt. She was willing to follow his lead to a point, but she made him feel like such a kid.

And that brought him to Patrick Jane. Jane had also treated him with a seeming respect without once passing up an opportunity to undermine him, had agreed with him on every point without once following his instructions and had offered him words of encouragement, all the while setting him up to fall on his face.

What Luther couldn't figure out was why, except for the irritation that his degree had contributed nothing more than the reason for the vic's nose band-aid, all it did was make him want to do better.

After everything, none of them were laughing at him, sniggering behind his back, talking about him, or abruptly ending conversations when he entered the room. Even now, watching Jane and Lisbon in their version of "taking tea", he knew they weren't talking about him the way any other senior members of a team would be, especially after the past two first days. They may have mentioned him, merely in passing, by way of carrying on their conversation, but whatever they were talking about, however they were behaving, would clearly be the way of things whether he was there or not.

For a moment, the frustration fell away and simple curiosity took over as he tilted his head and just watched their interaction. He guessed working together for over seven years could produce that kind of synched movement, that ease, that . . . harmony. Two days previous in his office, they had each presented their arguments for their respective cases and now he could picture them in his mind's eye, sitting across from one another, leaning forward in their urgency, elbows resting on their knees (One of Jane's was on a desk edge, but it had the same effect.), hands clasped. That made him think of Jane's theories about Tibbs and mirroring behavior.

But the identical body language between consultant and lead agent wasn't mirrored or mimicked behavior. It was shared.

Interesting.

As was this behavior. There was nothing sexual between them, he was positive. And definitely nothing romantic, although Luther had felt like a voyeur more than once as he watched their interaction during this late-night hour in the break room.

And then Jane walked Lisbon to the elevator and actually lingered after the door closed on her. Luther felt a very immature snicker well up in him.

Confidence trick. Scam. Hustle. Bunko. Flimflam. Jane had talked a good game, but there was something there that, when alone, Jane couldn't cover. An attachment.

Luther couldn't help sighing in defeat.

Not a psychopath then. At least not textbook.

He would need to reevaluate. Observe, listen, learn. And he would succeed. There was a reason the higher-ups had given him such an important position. Although, he had to wonder if they wouldn't reconsider if they saw him lurking in the shadows, spying on his subordinates like a prepubescent little brother.

And with that thought Luther sighed again. He didn't need to just learn about these people. He had always loved learning, and he was in an excellent position to learn from them. He knew nearly everything he needed to know about running a crime-fighting unit. But they could teach him how to fight crime. And they were, despite their many idiosyncrasies, the best. He just hoped he had a few days before they figured him out completely. Lisbon and Jane had taken separate trails these last few days and had proven to be an insurmountable challenge. Working together . . .

He dug his hands into his pockets and walked back past the bullpen, head down, brow creased in what he hoped looked like serious thought, fighting the natural reflex to look toward the brown couch, knowing he would encounter Jane's smug smile. He supposed the man was justified. They all were. They were a good team. Intelligent, dedicated, savvy. And definitely not dull. Working with these people there would be no downtime. Heading for the elevator, Luther couldn't quite help forming the smallest satisfied smile of his own.

END